MABTON - Six months ago less than two-thirds of Mabton High School seniors were on track to graduate this June.
Today that number is nearly 80 percent thanks to a series of intervention steps.
That's according to a presentation last night, Monday, to the Mabton School Board.
Dave Mendoza is a site advisor at Mabton High School for GEAR UP, a grant-funded program that helps students prepare for college. Mendoza and school counselor Lucia Tovar created opportunities for students to get back on track for graduation.
Mendoza told the board last night that since the start of the 2011-12 school year programs have been created such as an early morning Algebra II study class, the Viking Spot study time, as well as improved monitoring of students who have failed or are failing a class.
At the same time, Mendoza noted the success of these programs ultimately depends on student effort and parental support.
"Opportunities are still opportunities, but the students have to commit to the work," he told the board.
Mendoza noted that students taking advantage of the opportunities to get caught up are held accountable. "They need to correct the actions that are getting them behind," he said.
The effort is also having an impact on juniors, as to date 83 percent are on track to graduate next year.
But with all this success, Mendoza noted Mabton High School students are still lagging when it comes to college preparation.
He provided the board with the most recent results from the ACT exam. They show only 13 percent of Mabton High School students will be prepared for a college-level English composition course, compared to a state average of 76 percent.
In addition, the ACT scores from 2011 bear out that less than 5 percent of Mabton students are ready for college algebra, college social science and college biology. Statewide, the percentages of students ready for those same college courses are, respectively, 60, 64 and 40 percent.
Even so, Mendoza said Mabton students are getting into colleges and universities - 29 seniors in the class of 2012 have already been admitted - but some need to take remedial courses when they advance to the postsecondary level. "They need to learn the things good college students do to be successful," he said.
Moving forward, two ideas discussed last night involved monitoring D students as well as failing students and developing a budget to take Mabton students to visit college campuses to help them in their planning and preparation for life beyond high school.